My Sister's Sisters


“You’re not even my real sister!”

Alison had olive skin like her dad and dark hair to match our mother. I am pale with our dad’s lighter brown hair. Alison lovingly (?) referred to it as swamp hair. I thought that when her son was born with hair that matched his father (and coincidentally me) she’d drop the swamp adjective, but she affirmed that Sam had swamp hair too.

As a child, Alison and I once got in a fight over breakfast and I shouted, “You’re not even my real sister!” My sister was a lot tougher than me, in every way you can imagine, and I was surprised to see that she was immediately stung by my words. Our dad turned to me and in the most disappointed voice said, “I can’t believe you would say that. You of all people.”

I saw two faces that mirrored the unfamiliar traits of my sister’s familiar face.

Her funeral was only the second time I had ever seen my sister’s siblings in person. The last time we crossed paths was almost 30 years ago at Ali’s surprise birthday party.


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